Brown Pride - Livin In The Barrio Chicano Rap

The Harbor Area has been home to some of Chicano Rap's classic Hip Hop groups like Spanish Fly, Lawless and some funky L Streeters from the Eastside of Wilmas: Brown Pride.

From the lack of a sophomore release or any EP follow ups, I can only assume that The Pride (as they call themselves) was overlooked in its day and, in my opinion, far too funky for its time. In all honesty, it deserves a lot more credit than the group or the album gets.

It wasn't until this year that I personally gave them a thorough listen. In the last decade and half that I've been banging out underground tunes, I always passed on the album. I did like their song on "Southside Riders Volume 3", in fact, that is how I first heard of them. When I did get curious about the group, I saw the cover and I said, "pass".

As I've stated before, a lesson I've learned in all the years of listening to Chicano Rap is to not judge a book by its cover. And it reigns true for this album. But in my defense, the liner notes and booklet inside have better images of the group that could have been used instead of the cheesy cover art.

This year I completed my collection of the "Southside Rider(s)" saga (yes, even the sucky Christmas Edition). The Pride makes appearances on the first 3 installments, due to the fact that I really enjoyed the first three, their music started to grow on me.

If I have to pin point the song that had me glued it was the "Livin' In the Barrio", the same title for the 1995 album. Well like most Chicano Rap albums of the 90s, it was recorded earlier than the releases were made through Familia Records. I'd say this was from at least 1993, but their MySpace makes the statement that it was recorded in '89.

Sonically, this is very light in contrast to later Chicano classics like "Crazy Life" (1997), "Fully Strapped" (1995) or "Once In A Decade" (1996) whose beats, sound and production is more hardcore, dark and almost cynical, but still comes across as hard. I have a theory as to why this is: my guess is that THAT was the "L.A sound" from the time (everything from Frost's first two albums to "Trust No Man" and "Norwalks Most Wanted" sound similar in production and stylistically). One could say that "Trust No Man" (1995) and "NMW" (1996) along with this masterpiece fit together like consecutive chapters in a book.

At just eleven rolas, the album is the perfect length packed with bangers and no fillers. Kicking off the introduction to the album, "A Matter Of Pride" gives us a steady sample of Ronnie Hudson's classic ode to the West Coast. The second song almost feels like it's out of place in terms of production and sound, but "Gangsta Stroll" does captivate you with the cool Jamaican voice in the chorus.

I did find odd that the intro was set up as the third track. When "I Don't Wanna Be The One" first played in my car, I skipped it. I did it a few times until I let the disc play from beginning to end on my way to work a few times. It grew on me little by little. I learned to appreciate the sample here. At first the sample that came across more prominently was "Suavecito" by Malo, but "Dazz" by Brick stands out as the main sample. It's now a favorite.

Which Chicano classic doesn't have a Zapp sample? "Brown Madness" nicely samples Zapp's "Freedom" and it is complimented with a second Zapp sample, a little bit of the "yah-yah-yah-yah yahhhhhh" from "More Bounce". The delivery is so in your face and assertive. The only way this song could have been better is if the bass was more thumping with a more evident sample of the ever popular "More Bounce".

The Pride's first single "On A Friday Night" appears twice, once as the vocals and again in the end of the tracklist.

Had this been an LP, side B (the second half) would really stand out, having a more angry or agressive tone. Track #7 having the same name as the album, is by far my most favorite of the tracklisting. It is an international reflection of the confines of growing up in the barrio, some captivating quotes are the chorus, "... in the Barrio I was born, in the Barrio I will die" and "I stay hard, running with the same gang, hitting up my name speaking nothing but Barrio slang" or "it might have been different but it's the way I chose to go, kept in a prison but this prison is my barrio".

The last 3 songs that play before the "On A Friday Night" instrumental ends the album have a distinct sound from the rest of the tracks, while still keeping the integrity of the overall production. It's eerily similar, or at least partially inspired by the sound we have come to associate from Cypress Hill (both "Got'Em On the Run" and "D.O.A"). The rapping on "D.O.A" sounds a lot like Ice Cube's angry flow from his first 3 albums, while the production on "Diablo" and the title itself, have that Lench Mobb style of beats.

To put things in perspective, a lot of these older releases have had a lot better reception and love from overseas, specifically Japan. I bought my copy online, near mint condition and with a lil' extra to accompany it: a Japanese insert of the Barrio slang translated to Japanese. Talk about going above and beyond.

For those of you who aren't aware, like NMW, this album is missing an extra rola. Yes, now you know something special. Call it censorship or whatever, but this was missing a rola dedicated to their neighborhood, "Funky L Street". You can find it on YouTube or their MySpace page from back in the day.

The entire album bumps, from beginning to end, this was a solid material. I strongly encourage you dust this off your shelve, and pop it in your stereo, if not do yourself a favor and download the zip file and play this on your computer.

01. A Matter Of Pride
02. Gangsta Stroll
03. Intro (F.O.T.I)
04. I Don't Wanna Be The One
05. Brown Madness
06. On A Friday Night
07. Livin' In The Barrio
08. Got 'Em On The Run
09. D.O.A
10. Diablo
11. On A Friday Night (feat. Gamiliani)

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